Wave Hill, Glyndor Gallery

The scholarly and curatorial pursuits of Bashford Dean (1867-1928) led him on a path through seemingly different worlds that were revealed to be closely related in an intelligent and enlightening way peculiar to the man. “With his wife, Mary Alice Dyckman, Dean rented Wave Hill House in 1909. At the start of his residence at Wave Hill, Dean was curator of Fish and Reptiles at the American Museum of Natural History; in 1912, he became the first Curator of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 Dean’s life and accomplishments are inspiration for several artists in the exhibition. Camilla Huey was intrigued to see that the terms used for elements of armor are similar to those used for parts of the corset. For this exhibition, she fashioned a corset for Mrs. Dean. Little is know about Mary Alice Dean, but she traveled extensively with her husband on research and collecting expeditions. Together with her sister, Fannie Fredricka Dyckman Welch , and her sister’s husband, Alexander McMillan Welch, they purchased and restored the Dyckman Farmhouse on Broadway and 204th Street, preserving a part of the city’s history.” Mary Alice Dean is portrayed as a translucent, illuminated from within with a peplum of resin cast fins of silk and tuille with a “spine” of a fish placed on a base of a wooden book spilling pages from the restoration of the Dyckman Farmhouse Pamphlet and Bashford Dean’s Manual of The development of arms and armament.

Darwin and proponents of the Origins of the Species held that fish and birds were related as species, fish being the earlier stage of development. Bashford Dean, consulted as an authority on the newly named field of Ichthyology, was invited to travel to Japan to view an unusual shark. This was an “armored” shark which would reveal through Dean’s research of the embryonic pectoral fin that fish and birds are not of the same species. Bashford Dean also on this journey first encountered Japanese Samurai armor. Meeting artisans still producing the traditional armor and armaments of the Samurai. Dean began his collection and is personified in his portrait as a Japanese Samurai Kote on top of a pillar of the publications he wrote during his dual careers, framed within a giant pectoral fin of silk satin sewn with a herringbone stitch in cotton floss, cast in resin.

 Catalog Quotes by Anna Robinson-Sweet

Jennifer McGregor, Gabriel de Guzman, Anna Robinson-Sweet